Hannah Juneau/The Lion's Roar
When it comes to finding and buying business attire, the word “affordable” may not be in a college student’s vocabulary.
That is why the university partnered with the Southeastern Wesley Foundation to create the Lion Pride Career Closet.
Run by the Wesley Foundation, the Lion Pride Career Closet is filled with donated suits, dresses, professional bags and purses and other attire. Students can drop by to get such items at no cost or to donate tax-deductible items or funds to purchase them.
Donation dropoff locations are at the Wesley Foundation near campus, First United Methodist Church in Covington and the Southeastern Livingston Center in Walker.
The Rev. Sam Hubbard is the organizational pastor for the Wesley. He spoke about how he wishes he had something like the LPCC when he was in college because making quality purchases can be tough for a university student.
“I was talking to someone the other day and the assumption is, if you go to college, then you’re financially okay. That’s not true. Fast forward a bit, and you have students working a bunch of jobs and doing whatever they can to stay in school, but now they’re about ready to go into the workforce and, you know, I didn’t have a suit. I definitely didn’t have any kind of money to go buy one. I feel so bad for the women because their clothes are even harder,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard shared what the Wesley Foundation’s beliefs are and how they impact the Lion Pride Career Closet.
“Over here at the Wesley, we believe in a ‘hand-up’ as opposed to a ‘hand-out’ to students who need all the help they can get to make the best start possible into the workforce,” Hubbard explained.
Director of programs Melissa Guerra believes the Lion Pride Career Closet will help provide students with a leg up in the world.
“It allows students to dress for success when maybe they can’t afford it or it’s a little bit out of their price range. I know the university has partnered with JCPenney’s to do career fair kind of things where they do discounts and that kind of stuff. But, even then, people can’t afford a $50 suit. We just hope that we can give students that leg up in the world and their career or an interview just to feel better about themselves,” Guerra said.
Guerra also discussed why she thinks this event is special and why it is personal to her.
“At the Wesley, our motto that we try to live by here is to feed the students, faculty and staff of Southeastern—mind, body and soul. You can’t even begin to feed their soul until you feed their actual, physical body. Whether that be through food or whether that be through clothing, you can’t meet the need for the mind and the soul until you meet that physical need. I think everyone should have a level playing field when it comes to your career. You’ve worked so hard to get through college so you should be able to go out and be successful, and whether your parents support you or you’re doing this on your own, that shouldn’t be a hindrance in whether you get a job or not,” she said.
Student intern, leader and vice president of the foundation Tiquanna Toomer has also been involved in the process of the Lion Pride Career Closet.
The LPCC is personal to Toomer because she was able to watch the project grow from an idea to, now, a full-on project. It has the potential to help many students, according to Toomer.
“In my opinion, the Lion Pride Closet resembles SELU tradition because it shows the devotion of faculty and staff toward the students here at SELU and establishes a sense of consideration toward the student body. The idea for the Lion Pride Closet happened when directors Sam Hubbard and Melissa Guerra walked through campus together brainstorming about what they could give back to the community of Southeastern to help the students,” Toomer explained.
The Lion Pride Career Closet will open in April and will be located in McGehee Hall in Room 207.